May 2018
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my feet are on the straight and narrow and I'm feeling trapped and lonely

It's been four weeks since I started classes again and it just hit me that this path I've committed to is not what I want for my life. I don't want a safe degree and a good job with a steady paycheck. I want to run away, I want to be free, I want to live on the edges and scrape by, I want to live out of my car, I want to have just enough to survive. At this point though, I feel like I've made a commitment and I have to see it through. But everything about it feels so WRONG. The ridiculous hoops one has to jump through to 'prove' that one has learned, the rating of progress by numbers. I loathe it. I just want to live. Why are there so many damn rules about how to do that?

And for whatever reason, it seems to have set off my -- I don't know what to call it, cisgender dysphoria? -- I feel completely alienated and disconnected. Maybe it's seeing so many more people than I'm used to (I very rarely went to places with loads of people for the last 7 years) and none of them being noticeably genderqueer. And I know you can't tell by the way someone looks but I feel like it can be picked up in this sort of movement/attitude way? I don't know. I feel really desperately lonely, having no one to talk to who also feels uncomfortable living in a pink and blue world. I need a sense of genderqueer community. Anita suggested joining the LGBT group for my school and I'm going to look into that but even queer people tend to pick pink or blue and play along with gender so I'm not very hopeful.

It does NOT HELP that people keep faking agreement with my genderfree philosophy and then saying "oh just kidding, I think you're a dumbass/liar/whore." (I'm not kidding or exaggerating) How can I have genuine conversations with people about gender when they either just don't understand what I'm saying or they understand it and don't care about it or they fake agreement to get something and then reveal it for a lie when the attempt fails? Why does no one care that people aren't allowed to be fully human?

I just want to live in a world where everyone is uncomfortable with prefabricated, limited identity and everyone shows their trueself and everyone refuses to rate other people and everyone calls out faking or non-thinking actions. Why is that so fucking impossible to find?

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musicandmisery ══╣╠══
Feeling alone and alienated is the absolute worst. I know how that feels. God. I could feel your pain reading this. I'm so sorry, Bel. *hugs*
belenen ══╣console╠══
thank you for understanding, lovey *hugs tightly*
secret_keep ══╣╠══
I feel like most people live in boxes. And most of the time, even if a person left their pink/blue box, they'd still be in a nerd/jock/stoner box, or a black/white/asian/indian box, or a... you get the idea.

So the problem isn't just gender- it's boxes. I'm sure you know that, but I feel like finding boxless people is a much different quest than finding genderqueer people. Boxless. I like the way that sounds.
gender abolitionist
belenen ══╣gender abolitionist╠══
I agree, but the problem is that not being pink or blue means that you don't belong to almost ANY box -- because those other 'boxes' exist INSIDE the pink or blue boxes. Not that I want to be boxed, but I want to find others not inside those categories.

The thorn here is that I cannot relate to people in the way most people relate. I don't feel included when people make the "we belong to the same group" comments like "you know how [men, women] are." And if I'm among some group that I might otherwise feel a kinship with (like artists) I still feel very alienated because they make those comments.
queerbychoice ══╣╠══
Do seek out the LGBT group. I suspect that your pessimism about it is unwarranted. I've never heard of a college LGBT group that didn't have a fair amount of genderqueerness.

Do you think you really have a clear enough understanding of what it's like to have to live out of your car, though, to be able to say that you want that? I know you've mentioned being stressed out by lack of money at times in the past, and that's been while you've still at least had a private bathroom and shower and kitchen and other basic amenities that don't exist for people who are forced to live in their cars. I hope that if you do decide to leave college, you will give these sorts of considerations a lot of thought first.
belenen ══╣genderfree╠══
thanks for the encouragement about the LGBT group <3

Oh, I'm not going to leave college, I'm pretty sure. I'm aware that I don't know how to live like that, and that it's not some rosy world. This are just feelings, desires, not plans.
elorie ══╣╠══
Where are you going to school?

I don't like the grading system either, and I don't really know anyone who does (and I know a lot of academics). I only assign number grades because I HAVE to...the university system requires it and truth to tell, if my students didn't have some kind of rating system, they wouldn't do jack shit. The numbers mean GPA which means HOPE scholarship. Vanishingly few of my students ever come and talk to me about their writing in terms other than "How can I make an A?" I just looked at a batch of writing assignments meant to prepare my students to write their first major paper and improve their skills generally; because they didn't have a high numerical value attached, many of them blew the assignments off.

As for the genderqueer stuff...I can't help but wonder if you are judging people too harshly. I consider myself genderqueer in some sense, but I don't think it's *possible* to be "genderfree." As a radical feminist I like your non-gendered word choices but as a writer and former editor they make me twitch a little. Does someone have to ascribe to your philosophy in order for you to consider them genderqueer? If so, no wonder you don't find many compatriots. I think, just like there are a lot of ways to be male or female...or both/neither...there are a lot of ways to mess with that binary, a lot of different ways to value authenticity. Maybe some of them are before you but you're just not seeing them.
delicatexflower ══╣╠══

this is why i value self-education so much higher.. there's no limit and you are your own teacher! i'm sorry for all the headache you had to go through ... i always found it unfair how a teacher (an authority figure) *judges* a paper of yours -- to believe a paper is an A+ or a D- is a matter of one point of view. it makes me kinda sadd =[
flower bunny
cunningbunny ══╣flower bunny╠══
I wish I had something of great substance to contribute, but I'm sort of in an odd place tonight. Suffice it to say that I empathize with that feeling of being cut off from your community, and I hope you find a way to reconnect.
kiwi ══╣╠══
I just wanted to touch briefly on something you said early in your statement. Well, okay, two things.

-I hate grades. With a passion. Which is hilarious, all things considering, but grades and standardized testing don't really say who you are. Or what you've learned. They merely say how well you "play by their rules" or "memorize and regurgitate". There's a college out here that doesn't abide by grades at all and part of me wishes I'd gone there to begin with. So I feel your pain. BELIEVE ME...I completely feel your pain.

-What one may consider a safe degree and a steady job/paycheck can lead to a lot more uncertainty than one may think. I have a science-centric degree and as a teacher with horrible pay, I barely made ends meet. I had another situation going at that time, I acknowledge that, but as someone who's lived without electricity, too broke to afford to eat, pawning off personal items to keep a roof over my head and then who spent a week living in a shelter, I'll tell you that a college degree doesn't mean a steady job with a steady income. I think, perhaps, there's a chance you can still have the experiences you seek, even with a degree.

I believe people are like prisms in a way - there's many sides and each offers a different view of the whole. Having a college degree doesn't have to LEAD to something in particular, it can just be another side to the prism that is you. I guess I just want to believe that one's identity is comprised of many, many aspects and that it can change and evolve. That's the beauty of you - you have so many sides to your prism. Perhaps another side doesn't have to take away from your beauty but instead, add another layer to the rainbow you make when the sun hits you right. :)

(Does that make sense?)
divinemiss_em ══╣╠══
I'm sorry that things aren't feeling optimal for you at the moment. I think that there is some expectation that we have culturally of what college is. That it is a place of higher learning (whatever that means) with a diverse mix of the most open-minded people that our society has to offer. It's really sad that it isn't a reality.

I did go to college and I do have a degree, but in retrospect I wish I had spent my time and money on courses that make my soul sing. I would have done (and will still do, dammit!!) an herbalism course, yoga teacher training and some sort of bodywork course as well. I realize that isn't helpful to you, but please don't start devaluing your knowledge that you have aquired through your self study. You see and make more connections with things than most people who have a traditional education.

Regarding not being able to find a true community of the type you seek-Do you think it has anything to do with the area where you live or have you come across the same disappointment with people in your travels as well?
ack. i'm rambling. :P
mundane magic
frecklestars ══╣mundane magic╠══
The feelings of loneliness you're talking exactly match what I feel sometimes; it's what made me say "Oh my goddess, I can't believe that people as awesome as you and your little family cluster _exist_! I've been waiting my whole life to meet people like you" etc. Awesome people are rarities, and finding them is difficult. I feel incredibly lucky to know you, because it really felt like meeting with someone I'd known forever.

But in the rest of my existence, those types of people, that feeling, is rarer than the deep thirsty blue boulder opals that I love so much. I really hope you meet some people, and I think Anita's right, that the campus LGBT group is a good place to start. A lot of people do conform, play by the rules, etc, but not all of us. I sincerely hope you find who you are looking for.
camilleyun ══╣╠══
Hiya. Don't know how much you've been on LJ but I bought myself a house. I have a guest bedroom that I call The Eeyore Room because my Eeyore collection is in there and the walls are colored somewhat like Eeyore. I didn't paint them. They came that way with the house. It has a queen size bed in it with a purpleish bedspread. Come visit. I live in Rossville, GA now.
justben ══╣╠══
The rules and grades in academia exist because they are offering not only knowledge, but also a degree. To the outside world, a degree is your university’s word that you have learned the material they are purporting to teach. If the university regularly grants degrees to students who have not learned their material, then the vale of that word—their reputation—decreases. Thus, universities implement grading systems to help them maintain that reputation.

Obviously, this is an idealized form of the system, which often gets corrupted in practice. Universities have grown and generally find it helpful make some compromises between education and bureaucracy. In my experience, good universities are able to minimize the impact of the bureaucracy on the ideal of education, but I’m not aware of any that eliminate it entirely.

On the other hand, many individual professors are more personally motivated by teaching than by maintaining the educational system itself. With the consent of professors, universities typically allow students to audit classes. The students attend class, complete the readings, and perhaps even participate in classroom discussions, but without receiving formal academic credit for the course. The exact arrangements are up to the professors, but since the student isn’t applying the coursework toward a degree, the university’s reputation isn’t on the line, and so grading and other formalities and bureaucracies are almost nonexistent. In general, you just ask the professor if they mind if you audit their class, find out what kind of participation they expect and are willing to provide, and then show up. It might be a good option for you if you truly just want the knowledge and don’t care about the degree.

If you’re asking for the degree, though, then the hoops aren’t in the way of just living: If you seek a degree then you’re implicitly accepting the value of your university’s reputation, and those hoops help protect that value.

More on gender shortly in another reply.
justben ══╣╠══
Honestly I think that your suggestion is correct that this dysphoria you’re feeling is related to seeing so many more people. Society writ large has some Big Fucking Issues. You’ve been able to meter your own exposure to it in recent years by choosing your social groups first on the Internet and more recently in face-to-face relationships, but this whole huge mass of humanity who Just Don’t Get It are still out there and just as fucked up as ever.

It’s why people build communities and subcultures. Quakers live separate from the world. Hippies build communes. Religions build monasteries. Hell, even those of us who live out with the crazies do what we can to limit our exposure first by building a strong home base for support and then by choosing carefully where we choose to face the Big Crazy. For different people that home base takes different forms, from family and friends to discussion groups, religious groups, burns, and many more. We build enough social stability that we’re not beholden to the Big Crazy for our basic sustenance, so that we can help heal the parts we can according to our energy, from a position of basic psychological security. The choice part comes in the form of choosing where and how we’ll build that base and which broader problems we’ll ameliorate, when, and how. Because trying to take them all on at once is a recipe for burnout.

So yes: You’re seeing a lot more of the world than you have for the last several years, and that means seeing a lot more of its storms along with the sunny days. It is absolutely vital that you keep your roots in healthy soil. If you’re dedicated to weathering the tough parts then some strong bark will help. Finding some other trees to stand with will provide protection. Their bark will be different: This is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because their boxes won’t fit quite perfectly with yours. It can still be a blessing, though, because they’re more likely to be sensitive to the need for community, and some of them—though not all—will be more open to standing with you against the weather even if they keep their boxes in their own views.

OK, this one didn’t turn out to be on gender specifically yet. More on the way; keep reading :-)
justben ══╣╠══
OK, gender and LGBT. Yes, Anita’s right: Check out your local LGBT student groups. Also look for gender studies or women’s studies faculty, some of whom will have some good contacts. Don’t expect either of these to solve the problem, though. A lot of LGBT people address gender norms with transgression and reversal rather than the complete rejection that you’re looking for. A lot of gender or women’s studies academics are focused on equalizing the merit of the pink box rather than eliminating the boxes altogether. Still, you’re more likely to find the people you’re looking for in either of these groups than in the general population.

I have a little story. I’m not sure if it’ll be helpful—in fact, I worry that it might be discouraging—but I feel compelled to share a recent experience.

I’ve been attending Emory Pride meetings for the last couple weeks. It’s hard for me for several reasons. First because I’m rather older than most of the people there. Second because as a staff member in addition to a student my perspective is rather different from the common ones there. But also I’ve learned that a lot of LGBT people approach the matters of gender and sexuality differently than I do.

Every meeting (well, the two we’ve had so far this semester as well as the one I made it to last year) start with the leaders directing the way around the circle asking the 20-30 people to say their name, their major (or something about themselves), and whether they prefer masculine, feminine, or gender-neutral pronouns. At first I was really happy to hear gender explicitly called into question this way and framed in a way that explicitly accepted gender neutrality. I was a little dismayed, though, as we went around the circle and everyone preferred the gendered pronouns that society would assign them based on their gender presentation. The only sort-of-exception was the transguy there, who’s an exception only insofar as he mentioned that people frequently misidentify him as a butch lesbian rather than his masculine gender identity. People there seemed basically OK with the idea of people living outside of a gender binary, but everyone there either accepted their society-assigned gender or reversed the binary rather than rejecting it entirely. Nobody requested gender-neutral pronouns; I came the closest by saying that I really don’t care what gender pronouns people use for me (which is, I admit, a bit of a cop-out that I’m still struggling with). I’m still planning on attending, but it definitely felt pretty isolating on top of those other factors that make me feel like less of a fit. I’m honestly a little nervous what they’re going to think when they figure out that not only do I have a girlfriend, but in fact I have multiple female-bodied significant others and am basically inexperienced with male-bodied people.

And even in all that, I really do think the other members are glad to see another face out in support, and there are a couple of them that I think I could go to for support if I needed it. I’m planning on emailing Michael (the transguy from Pride) to see if he might know about any specifically genderqueer community in the area. I’ll definitely let you know if I can follow that up to any genderqueer people out your way.

*hug* Keep your roots strong. I love you.
blimeyzawn1 ══╣╠══
I can completely relate to the trials and tribulations of school. There's a part of me that loves the learning/academia side of it. And then there's the other part that has a crying, screaming breakdown on the drive to school at least once a month. I'm not exaggerating.

Where are you taking classes, btw? If you say Georgia State I will be super excited because then I can meet you for lunch and hug you.

I've learned to approach school as something of a social experiment, if that makes any sense. It's painful to be exposed to the horrible things people think, but it's also an opportunity to change their minds, or learn to relate to people who are completely different from me. I think there's value in finding the good in people who may believe reprehensible things or have nothing in common with you, and I think if you can find a way to do it, it gets a tad easier.

Good luck, kiddo. I feel your pain :-)
kmiotutsie ══╣╠══
I'm wondering how much of this has to do with being in the south? Seems like different regions mature progressively at different rates, and while san francisco is one step ahead of the game, the south clocks in at varying degrees of NEGATIVE. Which is to say that if a place like Albuquerque (arbitrarily chosen because I happen to live here) is at ONE (being a city that is generally pretty average, but has several small activist/genderqueer communities within it, and even more accessible if you can freely leave town), and san francisco is at FIVE, the south would vary from negative TEN to negative TWO, and it's hard to pull yourself out of that. I wonder if some travel and exploration would do ya good.

Some outlets: WOOFing; internships for sustainable housing; volunteer projects or non-profit work; volunteering at a rape-crisis center or volunteering at sundry homeless shelters, etc. There are outlets and places for you and your voice all over the place; I wonder if you just need to spread your wings?
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.